Tor.com content by

Stefan Raets

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: In the Garden of Iden, Chapters 11-12

Welcome to this week’s installment of the Kage Baker Company series reread! In today’s post, we will cover chapters 11 and 12 of In the Garden of Iden.

You can find the reread’s introduction (including the reading order we’ll be following) here, and the index of previous posts here. Please be aware that this reread will contain spoilers for the entire series.

For this week’s post, I decided to try something different and do a separate summary and commentary for each chapter, rather than dealing with both chapters at the same time.

[How cold it was, the storm beating at the window.]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: In the Garden of Iden, Chapters 7-10

Welcome to this week’s installment of the Kage Baker Company series reread! Today we’ll be covering chapters 7 through 10 of In the Garden of Iden. Word of warning: this post ended up a bit longer than expected because there’s a lot more to talk about in these chapters than I remembered, so grab a snack before you dive in!

You can find the reread’s introduction (including the reading order we’ll be following) here, and the index of previous posts here. Please be aware that this reread will contain spoilers for the entire series. I’m not kidding, people: don’t read this if you haven’t read the eight core novels in the series yet.

And with that, off we go!

[“There was no evidence there that time had passed: nothing had changed but me. Now I, too, was beyond change.”]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: In the Garden of Iden, Chapters 5-6

Welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Reread! For today’s session, please open your bukes to chapters 5 and 6 of In the Garden of Iden.

You can find the reread’s introduction (including the reading order we’ll be following) here, and the index of previous posts here. Please be aware that sections of this reread will contain spoilers for the entire series. I am trying to avoid major spoilers in the chapter summaries, but my commentary and the comments section will include discussion of the series’ broader plot and references to story arcs and events from the end of the series. Gentle reader, you have been warned.

[Ah, the life of a teenage cyborg.]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: In the Garden of Iden, Chapters 2-4

Ave, and welcome back to the Kage Baker Company Reread! Today Stefan, your humble Literature Preservation Specialist Grade One, will be covering chapters 2, 3, and 4 of In the Garden of Iden for your delectation and amusement.

You can find the reread’s introduction (including the reading order we’ll be following) here, and the index of previous posts here. Please be aware that sections of this reread will contain spoilers for the entire series. I am doing my best to avoid major spoilers in the chapter summaries, but my commentary and the comments section will include discussion of the series’ broader plot and references to story arcs and events from the end of the series. Gentle reader, you have been warned.

[New Horizons in Fear]

Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series: In the Garden of Iden, Chapter 1

Greetings, and welcome to Tor.com’s reread of Kage Baker’s Company series! Each post in this reread will start with a chapter-by-chapter summary of events, followed by commentary by your humble re-reader. This first post will cover Chapter One of In the Garden of Iden. You can find the introduction post (including our reading order) here, and the index here.

Please be aware that this reread will contain spoilers for the entire series. I am going to do my best to avoid major spoilers in the chapter summaries, but my commentary (and especially the comments section) will include discussion of the series’ broader plot and references to story arcs and events from the end of the series.

And with that, let’s get started! Get comfortable, grab a copy of In the Garden of Iden and a cup of hot theobromos, and off we go!

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Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Rereading Kage Baker’s Company Series

Time travel has always been one of my favorite concepts in science fiction. I can trace my fascination back to the chills I felt the first time I read the ending of Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” as a new (and very young) SF fan. The sheer limitless potential of being able to explore the past or the future fascinated me; the idea of involuntarily changing the present by changing the past blew my mind.

From that point on, I had a hard time turning away any story, novel, or movie that featured some form of time travel. I discovered the fascinating concept of time paradoxes. I read classics I enjoyed, and some I didn’t. I read stories that only seemed to use time travel as a way to throw an SF plot into a historical setting, which I always thought was a waste compared to the ones that explored the wide-ranging ramifications of time travel technology and then let those ramifications inform the historical plots.

In that last category, I never found a more thought-provoking and entertaining example than the Company series by Kage Baker, a sprawling series of novels, novellas, and short stories that, over the years, grew into my all-time favorite example of time travel fiction. Which is why I’m so incredibly pleased to introduce the Tor.com reread of the Company series by Kage Baker, hosted by yours truly!

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Series: Rereading Kage Baker

Loose Nuke: Javelin Rain by Myke Cole

Myke Cole’s newest novel Javelin Rain is the direct sequel to Gemini Cell, picking up right after that novel’s final scene. In other words: please be aware that this review of Javelin Rain includes spoilers for Gemini Cell. If you haven’t read it yet, stop here and go read my review of Gemini Cell instead.

For people familiar with military terminology, even just Javelin Rain’s title may give a good indication of how the previous novel ended: The term “Javelin” denotes the seizure, theft, or loss of a national security asset with strategic impact. […] Code word “Rain” indicates a crisis of existential proportions represent a direct and pressing thread to the continued security of the nation.

Remember that line from Myke Cole’s original Shadow Ops trilogy, “magic is the new nuke”? Well, in Javelin Rain, there’s a loose nuke, and his name is Jim Schweitzer.

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Nature Abhors a Vacuum: Rereading Cibola Burn

Cibola Burn, the fourth novel in the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey, is my favorite installment to date. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that, for me at least, this book is the point where the entire series comes into its own. James S.A. Corey takes all the threads from the previous books and pulls them together. On one level, Cibola Burn is a classic space colonization stranded-on-an-alien-planet tale, but all the socio-political and personal angles that have been built up in the previous three novels hover over the action on Ilus/New Terra and turn it into so much more. I found it impossible to put down even during a second reading.

But first a quick summary to refresh your memory. Obviously, expect spoilers for all the Expanse books up to and including this one. You have been warned.
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Apocalypse Squad: The Trials by Linda Nagata

Novels like The Trials by Linda Nagata give me—or at least restore some of my—faith in the publishing industry.

Sure, there’s the story of how the book came to be in the first place: Linda Nagata, who wrote several critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful science fiction novels in the 1990s, self-published The Red: First Light in 2013 after a long break. Lo and behold, the indie-published title garnered critical acclaim, not to mention nominations for both the Nebula and the John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.

Soon after, the novel and its sequels were acquired by new SFF imprint Saga Press. A slightly revised edition of The Red was published in June, closely followed by The Trials, with series closer Going Dark due in early November.

While I enjoy a good Cinderella publishing story as much as the next tired, jaded reviewer, I really love these books most of all for what they are: some of the most action-packed and intelligent military science fiction to be released in years.

(Spoiler warning: The Trials is the direct sequel to The Red, and it’s pretty much impossible to discuss the new book without including plot details from the first one. So, if you haven’t read The Red yet, stop here and go check out my review of the novel instead.)

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Who Hacks the Hackers? Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

So an Arab Spring hacktivist, an online troll, a wannabe Anonymous-style hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and a credit card scammer walk into a bar… Well, okay, the bar part isn’t necessarily part of Chuck Wendig’s new novel Zer0es, but wouldn’t that make for a great joke-writing contest?

Instead, Zer0es begins with the five aforementioned digital malcontents getting caught in various acts of online criminality, then being strong-armed by the U.S. government into working for them. The hackers can either do ten years hard time in a federal prison or spend one year working for Uncle Sam in what appears to be a secretive cyber-espionage project. Faced with a textbook example of “an offer they can’t refuse,” they soon find themselves at a remote location known only as “the Lodge.”

[“We’re all just ones and zeroes,” Wade says. “Trick is figuring out which of us are ones and which of us are zeroes.”]

Fake It Till You Make It: Savages by K.J. Parker

K.J. Parker appears to be in a very prolific period in his career right now. In addition to the ongoing serial novel The Two of Swords, which just had its sixth monthly installment published in July, and last year’s short fiction/essay collection Academic Exercises, we are now treated to Savages, a brand new full length novel. (Plus, come October, a new novella right here on Tor.com!) Maybe it’s the recent unveiling of his true identity that spurred all this activity? Whatever’s the cause, you’ll never hear me complain about more K.J. Parker on the shelves.

The setting for Savages, as for most of Parker’s output to date, is once again a vaguely recognizable (but really different) parallel of Europe during and after the breakup of the Roman Empire: there are Western and Eastern Empires, one with vaguely Roman-sounding names and one with kinda-Greek-sounding names, as well as some other parallels to countries and regions in historical central Europe. Fans of the author will catch references to, among others, Permia and Scheria, two countries that have frequently been featured in Parker’s fiction.

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Nixon’s The One: Crooked by Austin Grossman

Austin Grossman’s new novel, Crooked, features a very different Richard Nixon from the one you may remember from history class. To illustrate, allow me to start this review with a brief quote from the book’s opening chapter, showing Nixon in the Oval Office:

I closed the blinds, knelt down, and rolled back the carpeting to reveal the great seal of the office, set just beneath the public one. I rolled up my left sleeve and cut twice with the dagger as prescribed, to release the blood of the Democratically Elected, the Duly Sworn and Consecrated. I began to chant in stilted, precise seventeenth-century English prose from the the Twelfth and Thirteenth Secret Articles of the United States Constitution. These were not the duties of the U.S. presidency as I had once conceived of them, nor as most of the citizens of this country still do. But really. Ask yourself if everything in your life is the way they told you it would be.

Well, the man has a point.

[Spiro, we’re not in Washington anymore.]

Tribes For The Twenty-First Century: The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

In Robert Charles Wilson’s new novel The Affinities, as in many of his other novels, the world as we know it is about to be remade. The difference with many of Wilson’s previous works is that, this time, the change seems relatively mild—or at least, at first it does. There are no aliens. There are no disappearing continents or mysterious artifacts from the future or impermeable spheres surrounding the entire planet.

Instead, the big change arrives gradually, brought on by very human advances in social teleodynamics. New technologies, algorithms and testing methods allow a company known as InterAlia (“Finding Yourself Among Others”) to sort people who pay a modest testing fee into twenty-two Affinities. The members of each affinity are supposed to be hyper-compatible: they are more likely to cooperate with each other in all areas of life, from the personal to the professional.

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Half of a War God: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole

“For the dead, war never ends.” That’s the somewhat ominous tagline on the cover of Myke Cole’s newest military fantasy novel Gemini Cell. Set in the early years of the Great Awakening, the novel shows how humanity first reacted to the sudden appearance of magical powers in random people—a process that would eventually lead to the militarization of magic as portrayed in Cole’s first three Shadow Ops novels: Control Point, Fortress Frontier, and Breach Zone.

Gemini Cell is in a sense a prequel to that trilogy. It doesn’t share any characters with the first three books, but it’s set in the same world during an earlier age, more or less setting the stage for what’s coming down in Control Point. A prequel in the L.E. Modesitt Jr. sense, maybe.

There’s two bits of good news here. First of all, if you’ve always been curious about the action-packed military fantasy Myke Cole excels at, this book is an excellent entry point to the series, as it basically requires zero knowledge of the other books. The second bit of good news: it’s also the best novel he’s written so far.

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The Mithras-Man Cometh: Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett

I resolved to read everything Robert Jackson Bennett has written after reading American Elsewhere. Because I am somewhat obsessive about these things, I decided to read his books in order of publication, so last year I started out with Mr. Shivers, a book I’d maybe not have picked up elsewise because it’s billed more as horror than fantasy.

But then, what do I discover? It’s set during the Great Depression. Dear reader: I’ll read almost anything set during the Great Depression, particularly if it also touches on the Prohibition—an endlessly fascinating period in US history.

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